NAACP 2.0: Making Involvement Easier on the Web

The new president of the NAACP is relying on the Web to get more people involved.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

It's not just a big week for Abraham Lincoln, who would have been 200, but it's a big week for the NAACP, which turns 100. To celebrate, the civil rights group issued a new report laying the groundwork for the next century. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous tried to answer the all-important question: "Now what?" Jealous says he wants to get more people involved, and it's not the young people he's worried about. "Community organizing is cool again, and that makes our life a whole lot easier," he says. But his focus is slightly older African-Americans.

"It's sort of like public television. People have a relationship when they're young, and then they have a relationship when they're middle-aged—I want to get people back between the ages of 25 and 45." In order to do this, Jealous says, the group will invest heavily in the Web. It's an NAACP 2.0 of sorts. "People in that demographic, ages 25 to 45, are so busy as professionals or as parents that, if you really want them involved, you want to make it easy and you've got to make it quick," Jealous explains. The organization gave this idea a shot in September with a voter registration drive called "Upload to Uplift." That Internet program instructed participants to upload their E-mail address book to a website that then automatically contacted users' friends and family members to encourage them to register to vote. Jealous wants to use the same type of technology to get more people involved and to help minority candidates win in the future. And by using the Web—well, that couldn't hurt with the young folks, either.

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